By Alexander Ramirez
WOODLAND, CA – A gruesome scene was depicted here Thursday in Yolo County Superior Court, Dept. 3, in a preliminary hearing for attempted murder.
Marc Alan Smith is being charged with elements of attempted murder with an enhancement of willful deliberate/premeditated murder attempt, and assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury with an enhancement of inflicting of great bodily injury and crime committed while on own recognizance or bail.
The incident took place on the night of July 24 at the Crest Motel in West Sacramento. The victim is the manager of the motel.
Once he arrived at the scene of the incident, Officer Hironaka said he saw the victim lying on the ground of the motel breezeway with his family over him. Because the victim was unresponsive with ragged breathing, Hironaka placed the victim on their side to prevent them from suffocating on their own blood.
According to the victim’s spouse, Smith was being evicted from the motel and wasn’t happy about it.
It was at this point of the testimony that an approximately four-minute video of the incident was provided to the court from the point of view of the motel cameras.
After Officer Hironaka confirmed the video shown to the court, Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt asked how long the duration was between the first and last blows to the victim, to which he responded around five to 10 seconds.
DDA Hays called her next witness, West Sacramento PD Officer Scott Farnsworth, who testified that one of the residents of the motel described Smith’s wife coming to her for a cigarette when she described Smith being in some sort of rage and destroying a television in the room.
Twenty minutes later, Smith’s wife once again showed up at her door pleading to let her hide in her room, but for fear of getting involved, the husband of the resident opted to drive Smith’s wife to her mother’s house.
Afterward, the resident described Smith throwing items around the motel parking lot before he was confronted by the victim and started to beat the victim. According to the resident, it started with a punch that knocked the victim out, then continued with Smith dragging the victim by their leg to a hallway of the motel.
DDA Hays’ third witness was West Sacramento PD Officer Cody Coulter, who said the resident described hearing glass breaking and looking outside the peephole of his room to see the victim and Smith arguing.
Once again, according to Coulter, the resident described the victim getting knocked out and dragged, but this time the resident described a parking lot curb where the victim was dragged and describe the victim getting kicked in the head an unknown amount of times before Smith walked away from the incident with a black bag.
Smith was later apprehended by Coulter and other officers.
During Mr. Van Zandt’s cross-examination of Coulter, he confirmed the shoes Smith wore during the incident. According to Coulter, they looked like tennis shoes or sneakers.
Van Zandt also attempted to confirm where exactly the victim was dragged to, and Coulter described the spot as a parking block.
After Officer Coulter was excused, DDA Hays called her first detective witness, West Sacramento PD Detective Robert Brazier, who investigated the July incident after it occurred.
According to Brazier, when he attempted to talk to the victim at one of the treatment rooms of the emergency department of the UC Davis medical center, the victim was in a medically induced coma and unresponsive. In fact, the victim had to be intubated and placed on a ventilator by staff to help him breathe. A photo was shown to the court of the victim in the hospital at this time.
DDA Hays called her last witness, West Sacramento PD Detective Cobb, who relayed how Smith came to live at the hotel and for what reasons he was being evicted.
In cross-examination, Van Zandt confirmed that Smith was supposed to leave the motel by the 26th of July and once again attempted to confirm the layout of the parking lot of the motel. From the photos of the scene, Cobb said that he couldn’t confirm whether or not there were parking blocks.
Van Zandt also asked Cobb if he has kept track of the victim’s recovery, to which Cobb confirmed that he has been in contact with the nurses treating the victim and they were optimistic he would make a recovery. Whether or not the nurses said it’ll be a full recovery, Cobb couldn’t say for sure.
Van Zandt didn’t argue there was an assault of great bodily injury enhancement but argued against the attempted murder charge by looking at the duration of the beating and the shoes by which Smith wore during the incident.
Also, since the eviction process is as stressful as it is and the possibility that the eviction caught the defendant by surprise shows that there is also an argument to be made against the premeditated charge, said the defense.
“The level of force used is indicative of general intent to assault, not specific intent to kill. This is a bad assault, he should be held to answer on that, but this is not an attempted murder case, your Honor,” he said.
In response, Hays recalled the video showing the victim getting knocked out as a “ragdoll just getting beaten slightly off-camera.”
Even with tennis shoes, Hays argued that the action of the victim getting dragged to a concrete elevation is extremely dangerous, and not only proves the premeditation motive but can also be argued as a kidnapping charge. She also argued that the victim’s recovery has nothing to do whether this was an attempted murder case.
After a quick rebuttal from Van Zandt arguing as to the validity of the possibility of a kidnapping charge, Judge Paul K. Richardson spoke.
“It’s hard to watch (video evidence)….as brutal of an assault as the court has seen in a while. And when you first realize that there is maybe a body on the ground to the right of the picture and you’re viewing it, first it’s not clear what it is, but what is apparent is the person seems to be out cold and he’s dragged from what appears to be an open parking lot into a hallway where (there are) vicious kicks to an unconscious or appearing to be unconscious (body) directly to his face and head.”
Judge Richardson also denounced the use of the victim’s recovery as evidence that this couldn’t have been an incident of premeditated attempted murder and the fact that the victim was on the floor as he was kicked repeatedly shows the viciousness of the attack.
Other than the existing counts towards Smith, Judge Richardson agreed that the victim’s multiple instances of being dragged from a public space to a more enclosed space are sufficient evidence for a kidnapping charge, at least for preliminary matters.
Arraignment for this case was scheduled for Aug. 26 at 9 a.m. in Dept. 12, with a trial date to follow.
A second matter regarding Smith and a count of shoplifting after a prior conviction began shortly after with Hays calling a witness from the West Sacramento PD named Jonas Eiremo.
This incident occurred on Jan. 16, 2020, at a beauty supply store, to which Officer Eiremo was dispatched. The manager of the beauty supply relayed to Eiremo that a white male entered the store while she was distracted and attempted to leave with an approximately $170 pair of clippers without paying.
Smith was later stopped after he was tracked by a GPS found in the clippers.
Van Zandt asked the court to decrease the count to a misdemeanor because of the age of the conviction, but Hays argued that because of Smith’s attempted murder case and Smith as a person, Smith should never be given the benefit of mercy in a court, parole, or government hearing, even in petty theft.
Van Zandt argued that the attempted murder case should have no factor in the petty theft case. Also, he argued that the prior conviction by which the count is referring shouldn’t even be registerable, seeing as it was a misdemeanor without force and with Smith being a minor.
In the midst of this discussion, Smith attempted to “argue my own case,” but was rejected by the court.
It was made apparent to the court by Hays that Smith’s involvement in the criminal justice system dates back to when Smith was a minor, and because of the large time gap there have been a few code and law changes.
Because of this, the change of laws and the fact that it was a pair of clippers that Smith attempted to steal, Judge Richardson agreed to have the count be reduced to a misdemeanor.